An Honest Conversation With Jessica Alba and Brian Lee of The Honest Company
More tidbits from the conversation with Jessica Alba and Brian Lee at SXSW include the following:
- The Honest Company's original name was Love & Honor, inspired by Alba's daughter. "But that just sounded too bridal," she said.
- The Honest Company will expand internationally later this year. "We're starting to make inroads into Asia and are looking at China in particular because we believe our brand will really resonate with the Chinese family looking for nontoxic lifestyle choices," Lee said. "We believe it's a very large market for us."
- The topic of a possible IPO "kind of freaks" Alba out. While Lee said there are no plans at the moment to file for an IPO, especially since the company has a strong balance sheet, Alba said the idea "kind of freaks me out. I live kind of in a fishbowl anyway, and I feel like that's even more of a fishbowl," adding that she tries not to think about it too much and instead focuses on growing the business.
- The Honest Company paid $400,000 for its URL. When the company started to seek out its current domain (www.honest.com), it was "very cloak and dagger," Lee said. "The name was owned by a squatter and it was for sale for $400,000, and that's what we paid for it." The company could have gotten "www.thehonestcompany.com" for free or close to it, but Lee said it wouldn't have been right for the brand.
- One place you won't find Honest Company products is on Amazon.com. Alba said she wants to maintain the one-on-one relationship with the customer and doesn't want to give up control of the customer experience to Amazon. Lee agreed. "We love Amazon. I've personally been an Amazon Prime member since its start. But when we launched Honest, we wanted to build our own community."
- Honest is more than a nontoxic version of Unilever or Procter & Gamble. "We're not just a CPG [consumer product goods] company," Alba said. "It really is a lifestyle and a way of life. And we're also an education platform. In so many ways it's a different idea."
- Part of The The Honest Company's business strategy is to put employees first. When hiring, one of the factors it considers is the "airport test," where the company tries to gage whether that employee would be pleasant to be with if you were stuck with them at an airport for six hours. The likeability test has been important to the company's growth.
- Alba works for The Honest Company on a day-to-day basis. She helps train customer service reps and is involved in everything "from product development to designing marketing assets to helping design and build out wire frames and flow. I do all of the creative stuff, but do not balance any kind of sheet. I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and where I can add value."